|Volume 8: After Death|
|Preceded by||Volume 7: Stone Wolf|
|Followed by||Volume 9: The Graveyard of Bells|
After Death is the eighth volume of the Silver Diamond series.
Can Rakan, who has the power to bring plant seeds to life with a simple touch, save a dark and dying alternate world? Rakan and Company continue their journey towards the Imperial Capital, but new obstacles quickly get in their way. Enormous snakes begin to emerge from the ground, wreaking havoc and then disintegrating into streams of water - could this be the next part of the Ayame Prince's prophesy? Narushige remembers his painful past as his younger sister learns just what it means that she has become the next 'Sacrificial Child.'
Chapter 22: After LivingEdit
The volume opens with a mysterious voice telling Mitama that their body is becoming stiff, and that they are afraid that they are dying. The voice asks Mitama what the point of their life was, but Mitama does not know.
Rakan, Chigusa, Narushige, Tohji, and Kuro have arrived at Aobi Pond, famous for a blueish-white light that shines from its bottom. As they inspect the area, Rakan notices a giant eye in a rock crevice staring at him; the rock suddenly crumbles and the head of a giant snake pops out. Ignoring the group, the snake looks around while its body becomes transparent. Chigusa notes that the snake isn’t giving off any hostility before it swallows the group; Rakan notes that the body is full of water. Off in the distance, two men in a village watch the snake rear up into the air.
Inside the snake, which turned out to be only partially filled with water, Rakan and his friends are carried through the landscape, watching it go by through the snake’s clear scales. The snake’s scales fall off as Chigusa tells the group that the snake bears an aura of sadness, and that it says that it will die soon. The snake repeats the words stated in the introduction of the chapter, lamenting its life, before finally crashing into the ground and dying, depositing Rakan and friends by a nearby village.
Rakan grows some flowers and makes a crude gravestone for the snake, labeling it “Aobi”, as its true name was unknown. The scales dropped by the snake seem to attract water. As the group leaves, heading for the village Chigusa can see, they find a man from that village, who offers them dry clothes and a place to stay. As they change, Narushige tells the group a little about Mitama, the giant serpent who he met when he was a little boy. Koh had also been living with Mitama, and he met Narushige then.
Soon, Rakan’s group is offered a hot bath, and the four split up into two groups: Rakan and Narushige go to take a bath first, leaving Chigusa and Tohji behind. Rakan and Narushige are led to another building; the trip reminds Narushige of something, but he can’t put his finger on what. They enter the building and go downstairs.
Meanwhile, Tohji is wandering around and overhears a group of villagers talking. The group is arguing over whether it was a good idea to send the “Prince” to “the cave”; they aren’t sure if Rakan is the real Prince, and so decide that if he is, he’ll exterminate the creature in the cave. If he isn’t, he’ll be eaten.
The creature is revealed to be another giant snake, which triggers Narushige’s memory. A woman named Shigeyuki had led him to such a giant snake (presumably Mitama) when he was a little boy.
The scene shifts to Sae, who has woken up from sleep, but screams when she sees a giant white snake in front of her. The snake hushes her, telling Sae that she eats noisy children, and asks her if Sae is the next sacrificial child.
Back in the village, Tohji rushes to find Senroh after overhearing the villagers’ conversation. Senroh mentions that there’s another great serpent in the village, one that is “turning into something not good”, but before the two can mount a rescue operation for Rakan and Narushige, they are surrounded by villagers.
The scene shifts back to Rakan and Narushige. The latter tells the former to flee, but the door is locked, and Koh is unable to transform into a sword. Rakan doesn’t even have any seeds on him, and the two frantically wonder what to do.
Chapter 23: After DeathEdit
Sae looks at the room around her, noting the books and scrolls a snake would be unable to use. She wonders if Narushige lived there, starting to cry as she realizes her mother sent her here to die. The snake tells her to stop crying, as the world will soon be ending anyway. Sae asks the snake for a favor, since she is to die, and asks that the snake become her mother’s friend, as her mother has none.
Back in the village, Chigusa and Tohji decide that the quickest way to get to Rakan and Narushige is to attack the men surrounding them. They defeat them, then head off to their friends.
In the room Rakan and Narushige are in, the snake begins talking to itself, wondering why it had been trapped. While they wait, Narushige begins to tell Rakan of how his mother, Shigeyuki, brought him to Mitama to be a sacrifice when he was young. He becomes embroiled in his memories and hate for Shigeyuki before Rakan snaps him out of it, trying to comfort him. Suddenly, Chigusa and Tohji arrive to rescue the two. They reunite, but the snake begins complaining about how much its body hurts. Its scales start becoming transparent, and Chigusa tells the group to let the snake swallow them, else they’ll be crushed as it leaves the building.
The snake bursts through a rock wall into the open air, and the Rakan’s group takes the opportunity to jump down into the village through a hole in the snake’s body where its scales had begun to fall off. The snake begins to thrash, destroying houses and spraying water everywhere as it bemoans its fate and cries out in pain. It begs for answers, for why it has to die like this, and for what will come for it after death. It begins to become angry, but before it can truly enrage itself, Rakan answers the snake.
He tells it that it will become a river, that its scales will draw water along them to form a river. The snake hesitates, but accepts the fact; when Rakan asks its name, so as to name the river, the snake gives it: Tsukishiro. Tsukishiro falls and dies, and Rakan leaves flowers in honor of the snake’s passing.
Mitama hears Rakan’s and Tsukishiro’s words, and decides to hold off on eating Sae. She wonders if perhaps the world won’t come to an end, now that Rakan is here.
Chapter 24: Next LifeEdit
Rakan is growing plants for the village; he uses seeds they found from the shed where they met Hakubi and Kuro. The four chat among themselves, and eventually end up on the topic of Chigusa’s amnesia. He talks about how, while he knew information about the world, he couldn’t recall any personal memories or emotions.
The group is approached by some villagers, who apologize for their actions before Tsukishiro’s death. They ask Rakan for an explanation for what happened, but before any more words can be spoken, an alarm goes up through the village about a beast approaching.
The beast is Kuro, who is in a panic over the group’s sudden disappearance. Chigusa moves and intercepts her, calming Kuro down before she runs into the village.
The scene shifts to Shigeyuki, who has been approached by two younger members of her clan. They ask her about her meetings with Kinrei. She tells them that she received an artificial Sanome seed, and asks the two if one of them wishes to bear a new Sanome. They both volunteer, and she asks them to meet her later that night.
Back in the village, Rakan’s group has retired for the night after planting plenty of plants. The scene shifts to the Prince, who has also fallen asleep. Kinrei enters his room, mentally noting that the Prince should sleep soundly that night after using so much of his power. He takes a knife and makes a cut on the Prince’s palm, drinking the blood.
The next morning, Rakan’s group departs from the village. They decide to ride on Kuro, as she’s afraid of being left behind again. In the capital, Kinrei asks Yoruaki to watch over the still-sleeping Prince while he attends to some errands. He tells Yoruaki to give the Prince some sleeping medicine to make sure he does not wake.
Kinrei descends into the underground, where he creates stone puppets to seek out more rocks with names and a seed that will not wither for eternity. If he can find it, he has decided that the Prince will no longer be worth keeping alive. In the Shigeka residence, it appears that Kasane and Shinobu, the two women who met with Shigeyuki the night before, have gone missing. Shigeyuki’s mind turns to the planted Sanome seed she received from Kinrei, which has now grown into a tree; the two missing women’s robes are hanging off of it.
Back on Kuro, Rakan and the rest of the group have arrived at the Forest of Ringing Bells, a graveyard. The trees are now gone, leaving only a gazebo. Before the group can investigate, a ghost appears and moves towards Chigusa, telling him how much she missed her beloved. Without thinking, Chigusa replies that he doesn’t know the ghost, angering it.
It's bath time and the bathtube can house only two people at once. Chigusa assigns a number to everyone, from the shortest to the tallest. Then he explains, by adding them in a smart way, that it's just mathematically right that he can bathe with Rakan. While Rakan is amused and Touhji fooled by Chigusa reasoning, Narushige sees through him but he's still left to teach Touji mathematics, brooding about how calculating Chigusa can be.
|Tempting Persephone||N/A||The review is for the first 8 volumes|